WILMINGTON, DE – NOVEMBER 19: President-elect Joe Biden answers a reporter’s question after making remarks to the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Photo by Salwan Georges / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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The move will come after President Donald Trump the country officially withdrew from the climate change deal on November 4th, which was the earliest possible time under its terms. Biden said he would bring the US back into the deal as early as February.
Here’s a look at what re-entry means for the US and the world, and what could happen next.
The US official exit from the agreement, while further isolating Washington from the rest of the world, does not necessarily have an immediate impact on international efforts to curb climate change and implement the framework of the agreement.
However, almost every country in the world is part of the agreement. Of the 195 countries that have signed the agreement, 189 have officially adopted it, and no country other than the United States has given up.
“With the US having one of the largest economies in the world and the biggest contributor to climate change, it is incredibly important that the US return to the Paris Agreement,” said Cornell University climate writer Natalie Mahowald, a lead author on the 2018 UN report on climate change.
The pact is a non-binding agreement between nations to reduce emissions and keep the rise in global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit compared to pre-industrial levels.
Global temperatures have already risen 1.2 ° C since pre-industrial levels, and the atmosphere is well on its way to warming 1.5 ° C, or 2.7 ° F, over the next two decades.
Warming at 2 degrees Celsius could spark an international food crisis in the coming years according to a 2019 report from the United States Scientific Panel on Climate Change. Scientists generally agree that the climate goals that countries are trying to achieve under the Paris Agreement are not enough.
The next round of U.N. climate negotiations will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021. Countries are expected to come up with new, more ambitious targets for 2030 – and all eyes will be on the US.
The US is the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and is considered a key to global efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.
“The US leadership and the US-China bilateral agreement to reduce CO2 emissions were key to getting the Paris Agreement off the ground,” Mahowald said. “The continued participation and leadership of the US is key to any effort to stop climate change.”
After re-entry, the US is likely to come up with a climate target that will be updated from the Obama administration’s target and a specific plan to reduce domestic emissions from the power and energy sectors.
In a broader sense, the US needs to rebuild trust with other nations in the deal, especially after Trump’s legacy of refusing to accept climate change and his official withdrawal from the deal.
Trump’s withdrawal of a number of environmental regulations and exit from the agreement shocked international allies and scientists. It also prompted some U.S. states, cities, and corporations to part ways with government and move forward with their own climate plans.
For example, 75 CEOs last year urged Trump to stay in the deal. Big companies including Apple, Google, Goldman Sachs and Royal Dutch Shell signed a statement arguing that it would strengthen its competitiveness in world markets and allow the US to lead the way in developing technologies to curb carbon emissions.
Globally, the US will have a lot to do to catch up with other nations that have already launched bold climate change initiatives. China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2060, and the E.U. has vowed to become climate neutral by 2050.
Biden said the US will reaffirm its emissions reduction targets under the deal and lead efforts to get other countries to improve their climate targets.
The former vice president has Plans that go beyond Parisincluding a $ 2 trillion economic plan to invest in fossil fuel to clean energy transition to zero carbon emissions from electrical power by 2035 and Achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
“My hope – and expectation – is that President Biden will actually re-enter the Paris Agreement quickly, lead a revitalized and much more ambitious US commitment, and play a smart and responsible role in the global effort,” said the professor of environmental science at the Appalachian State University Gregg Marland who tracks global carbon emissions.